Hope~A Blog on Prayer and Reflection
23 December, 2014
Entering a crude and cold stable, I see a manger. It is primitive in its construction and layered with hay. An older bearded man kneels beside it and a beautiful young girl leans over looking into it. From where I stand, I see no child in this manger but a blinding light radiates forth. The young woman nods to me in a way that calls me to come closer. With each step I take, the light becomes brighter until I reach it and am able to look into it to see a child. What child is this? I am certain that He is the most beautiful child the world has ever known. His mother’s name is Mary. She looks at Him with adoration and tenderness. “Mary, may I hold Him?” She leans in, gently lifts Him and places Him in my arms. He is warm and calm; a peaceful child, and at that moment I know who He is. He is the Christ Child; the child the prophets spoke of, the Son of God. I held Him close to me. Although I felt great joy, it was bittersweet for I sensed a sadness to come. As babies do, He held onto my finger with one hand and raised the other as he moved His tiny feet. These tender little hands and feet would one day be pierced with nails. I lifted Him upright, caressed His head and kissed His face. This face would one day express agony to a degree no one before Him had ever experienced. His Head would be pierced with thorns. As I laid Him back into His bed, I looked at His shoulders; tiny baby shoulders and, in a vision, I saw these shoulders carrying the weight of the world. His shoulders would carry the cross and He would do this willingly for me. He would do this so that I would be given the opportunity to live with Him eternally in His Father’s kingdom. I looked up at Mary and as I looked into her eyes, I saw a sadness and I knew that she knew the road ahead would not be an easy road for Jesus. From the crib to the cross. But for now, He is her child. He is her beautiful new born child.
During this wondrous time, may we keep our focus upon this child.
27 November, 2014
The dictionary defines Thanksgiving as “the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.”
It defines Eucharist as “the giving of thanks; thanksgiving.”
The word “Eucharist” is a transliteration of the Greek word eucharistia, which is itself a translation of the Hebrew word berekah. All three words have the meaning of thanksgiving, or praise for the wonderful works of God.
Reflecting upon the definition and translation, we come to understand that each time we receive the Eucharist, we are giving thanks to God. Although Thanksgiving is a day set aside for giving thanks for our blessings, it is celebrated once a year. We, as Catholics celebrate Thanksgiving each time we receive the Eucharist. Just think about this. The Eucharist offers us the opportunity, not only to receive the body and blood of Jesus, but to thank Him for offering it to us. Is there a greater gift?
So, on this Thanksgiving Day, I would like to give thanks for all the beautifully obvious blessings I have been given beginning with the selfless mother and aunt who raised me and, now, watch over me from beyond the veil, for a loving and loyal husband, a brother and his family who have always included us and treat us as their own. I give thanks for family near and far and for friends who are just as much family as those with whom we share blood. I am grateful for a warm home, food on our table and caring neighbors, for those with whom we worship; our church family, and for our wonderful architecturally “round” church which I refer to as my womb. While we often complain about events and politics in this country, I am grateful that we are free and allowed to express our discontent. In a world where so many have so little I am thankful for all I have and, with that thanks, I ask forgiveness for the times I forget about blessings and become ungrateful. I give thanks for forgiveness. The litany goes on and I am in gratitude for that.
On this Thanksgiving Day, and every day, I give thanks for the greatest blessing of all; my God and the opportunity to receive Him in the Eucharist.
I would like to close with a most beautiful prayer written by Saint Maximilian Kolbe which, I feel, expresses gratitude in a most reverent and glorious way .
In order to show me close up how ardently Thou lovest me, Thou comest from the purest delights of Heaven down to this dirty, miserable earth, spend Thy life in poverty, adversities and sufferings - finally to hang, despised, ridiculed and overwhelmed with pain, between two thieves on the shameful gibbet. By sacrificing Thyself in this horrible way, Thou hast redeemed me, O God of love! Who could have imagined it?
But that was not enough. Thou saw that, from the time when Thou pourest out these proofs of Thy immense love, nineteen centuries would pass before I appeared on this earth. Thy heart could not tolerate the thought that I should have to nourish myself solely on memories of Thy great love. Thou remained here on this small earth in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the altar and Thou come and unite Thyself with me - truly, under the form of food………and Thy Blood flows in my veins, Thy soul, O incarnate God, permeates my soul, strengthens and nourishes it. What a miracle! Who could ever have imagined such a thing? What more could Thou hast given me, O God, than Thyself to be my own possession?
~ Saint Maximilian Kolbe ~
Wishing a blessed Thanksgiving to all.
Copyright Marilyn Nash, 27 November, 2014
1 January, 2014
Here we are, at the beginning of a new year. As I look back at the year past, I find myself a bit taken aback by the number of lessons the year presented. I hope I learned well enough that, in an effort to suffer a little less pain, I am able to apply these lessons to what may lie ahead.
I've learned that people come into and go out of your life and, like it or not, the best you can do is accept it. People you love die and leave a void you can never fill. You grieve. You cry but you hang on tightly to the memories of the good times and the lessons they taught you. Often those who pass were not as much a part of your own life as they were a part of the life of someone you love and, you are left watching the person you love drown in tears of grief, and in their grief, shutting you out. You stand by helplessly, willing to take on their pain if it were possible, but it is not possible, so you find yourself, each day, more detached from a loved one. Their grief becomes a different kind of grief for you as you come to realize your relationship will never be the same. Others, who you expected may be weak or broken are stronger than you imagined. For this you thank God.
2013 was a difficult year. I spent a lot of time not physically well. More lessons. People you thought would have been around to lend a helping hand were nowhere to be found. People whose time was full and whose responsibilities filled their every hour, managed to make time to be beside me giving much needed love and support. There were those who turn on you, not quite satisfied with shutting you out of their lives so they work very hard creating vengeful turmoil until they manage to succeed at having others push you away. You become the leper, so to speak; the person whose presence is a curse. There are those who have much but are not willing to share and those who have little and would willingly take from themselves to help another.
Through something bad good things can be found. We were blessed to re-connect with family we had been away from for too long. We were blessed to re-discover the generosity and kindness of cousins in another state and of a friend with whom we had lost contact.
Friends move away. You miss them but you know your bond will always be. One day, you may be the person who leaves and forms new friendships. We never really know.
In all this, what have I learned? I’ve learned better the importance of forgiveness; if not for the one who hurt me, for myself. I ask God, daily, to give me a forgiving heart and although I remain far from those who have hurt me, I don’t stop loving. The love doesn’t change. I’ve come to understand that I am not an innocent and I need forgiveness but my forgiveness comes from God, for no human can love or forgive to the degree I need to heal. I’ve learned that I have to let go. As much as I want, I cannot make someone love me. It’s a fact; a difficult, unpalatable fact.
All in all, the lesson is this: In life things change. People come and go. Possessions come and go. Health changes. People pass over the veil. We are happy or sad. We laugh and we weep. Everything changes. In life, there is only one constant and that constant is God. Only God remains the same forever, loving us more than we can comprehend, forgiving us every time we fall short. Only God is dependable and it is in God alone that we must place our faith.
So for this New Year, I resolve to work harder to stay in union with my God; to love more, to pray more deeply, to serve more and ask for less, and above all, to be thankful that God has given me the Grace to know and love Him.
Copyright 1 January, 2014
6 August, 2013
“Lord, it is good for us to be here”
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. Matthew 17: 1-8
August 6th is the day chosen to celebrate The Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus.
I love reading this Scripture. I love hearing it read and I love spending time reflecting on it. “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” Such a prayer of thanksgiving! I close my eyes and as my vision becomes clearer, I am taken further upward. Here I can see the defining line where the mountain and sky meet. Here, the figure of Jesus becomes clearer and I watch in amazement as His face radiates a most brilliant light and His robe becomes a stunning white. “Lord, it is good for us to be here.”
Suddenly, my vision changes. The mountain becomes the altar, the bright white becomes the Eucharist and “we” become those who are receiving the great blessing of His body. “Lord it is good for us to be here.” Thank you, Lord. The word Eucharist, in Greek, means thanksgiving. In the Transfiguration of Jesus, He not only changed His appearance, He gave us an image of the gift that was to come.
I have a crucifix hanging at the foot of my bed. It is the first thing I see when I wake in the morning and the last thing I see before going to sleep at night. During these times, and whenever I may see it during the day, I stop for a moment and say, “Lord, it is good to be here.”
8 June, 2013
Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2: 19
Can you imagine finding your way into Mary’s heart? This heart so pure it was given the title “Immaculate.” It is too big for my human mind or spirit to grasp. This heart was the heart of a child when its faith was so strong that it lead Mary, with total trust, to surrender to God’s will. This immaculate heart filled with radiant joy as Mary held her new born Son. It was this same heart; this pure joyful heart, that came to suffer a depth of pain beyond our comprehension.
When I pray my rosary, I place every intention in Mary’s immaculate heart. I trust that a heart who experienced degrees of emotion from the brilliant light of joy, to the depth of sorrow experienced through grief, will surely understand my needs. I trust that this mother’s heart will shelter me from the cold of rejection, the sorrow of grief and the fear of uncertainty. I trust that this heart will rejoice in my joys and wipe my tears when I cry. It is this heart who will take my every plea to her Son and intercede on my behalf.
Can you imagine finding your way into Mary’s heart? We find our way each time we call her Mother and trust in her love for us.